Tag Archives: subtractive thinking

An analogy for using the Blue Ocean Strategy framework

If you’re a strategy guy, I’m sure you’re familiar with the , where you set out to create new value by not competing but rather creating and capturing new demand (new market) where you’re the only guy holding the flag.

In a nutshell, here’s what Blue Ocean Strategy proposes:

blue ocean strategy red versus blue

Sounds pretty damn good. But, the problem is it’s difficult to imagine and do. Worse yet, is it’s difficult to understand if you’re someone who’s not a CEO, strategist, consultant or marketer. To tackle this problem, I thought I’d uncover the hidden truth behind some of the key ideas of the approach.

Weekend innovation tip: Create new products and services using subtractive thinking

subtractive thinking

How do you create new products and services that deliver new value?

Using subtractive thinking by:


+ Create: Develop by designing from scratch
+ Improve: Build upon by enhancing what already exists


– Reduce: Minimize by taking down to the bare essentials
– Eliminate: Remove by doing away with entirely

Subtractive thinking applies to Business Models, Product Design and Brand Development. Here are some successful examples:

  • Saturn removed negotiations from the car buying experience.
  • Subway removed the traditional kitchen from the fast food restaurant.
  • Netflix removed the storefront from video rentals.
  • Little Caesar’s removed the restaurant from the pizzeria.
  • Apple removed complexity from the user interface.
  • Yellow Tail removed the pretension from selecting wine.


Must read innovation stories of the week: Can a successful innovation be predicted? Yes

Ronin release

According to Phil Koos, by being aware of changing consumer needs innovation can be predicted.

War, Inc. video My Beautiful Laundrette move


Great innovation builds on what comes before it and does not require people to make radical changes in beliefs or behavior. What often looks like breakthrough innovation is actually a small advance or twist on an established idea. That the change is evolutionary, however, doesn’t keep its impact from being revolutionary. Monitoring market evolution across the globe over time reveals patterns consistent across categories and markets. Consumer needs evolve in predictable ways. There are waves of successful mass-market innovation that mirror a natural evolution in consumer needs.



The Assassination of Richard Nixon film

Body Armour trailer